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Liberty alumnus receives Fulbright grant renewal to continue historical research in Romania

Liberty University alumnus and Fulbright scholar James Knight (’20, ’22) has received a grant renewal to continue his research in Bucharest, Romania, through June 2024.

James Knight (second from the right) at Biserica Sfântul Nicolae (Saint Nicholas Church) with colleagues at the University of Bucharest and a senior monk from the Cernica Monastery. (Photo provided)

Knight earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in history before being accepted into the Fulbright program as an open research scholar in Bucharest. The grant not only took him overseas, but back in time to the fifth century A.D., as he has been studying the historical significance of the Roman Empire since October 2022. His work is a continuation of his master’s thesis about the frontier on the Danube River.

“Being a Fulbright recipient has given me access to so much material for my research from the National Library of Romania and my host institution, the University of Bucharest,” Knight said. “Living in Romania has been advantageous to my research and being affiliated with the local university and its faculty, as well as Fulbright, has allowed me to connect with dozens of scholars.”

The Fulbright Scholar Program, which operates in over 160 countries, is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to build lasting connections between people from the United States and other countries. Recipients are selected on the basis of academic and professional achievement as well as record of service and leadership potential in their respective fields.

Knight’s original grant period was from October to June 2023, but he received an offer to renew the grant and, upon a successful application, was notified it was extended through June this year.

“This opportunity wasn’t guaranteed, but in my case, it worked out,” Knight said.

Balancing his studies with cultural engagement, Knight attends the Reformed Church of Bucharest and volunteers with Liderii de Mâine (The Leaders of Tomorrow), a local branch organization of Cru.

“The Lord provided everything I could have imagined while living abroad,” he said. “I saw the hand of God at work, not just in my own life, but in the world and the lives of those around me.

As part of his Fulbright requirement, Knight spends most days out of each month gathering and cataloguing research materials. He plans to create a finalized project in the form of a series of articles before the end of his grant period.

“My end goal is to write at least five or six research articles that I could get published in some journals,” said Knight. “That’s what I aim to do, and if I keep up my current work pace, I could write a dozen articles and have all the material needed to demonstrate that my time overseas has been abundantly worthwhile.”

Knight expressed his gratitude toward his Liberty professors for encouraging him to submit a Fulbright application.

“It was a long process for me, and I would not be here in Romania without the profound and very gracious assistance of numerous professors and mentors at Liberty,” said Knight. “They supported my application as advisors and offered continuous encouragement, guidance, and assistance.”

He recently applied to the University of Florida where he hopes to earn his Ph.D. in history. He said the Fulbright program and Liberty faculty helped him achieve all that he needs to continue excelling in his field and encourages other Liberty students and alumni to apply for the program.

“Every month or so I still send an email to the Liberty professors who impacted my decision to apply for Fulbright,” Knight said. “Overall, I have only praise for the Fulbright program as this has been a fantastic and eye-opening experience. It’s so exciting to travel to a foreign country, and everyone who applies has the chance to build friendships, see new perspectives, and delve deeply into one part of the world that they will carry with them for the rest of their lives.

Liberty recently announced five semifinalists for the Fulbright U.S. Student Program for the 2024-25 cycle. Applications for the 2025-26 Fulbright U.S. Student Program grant cycle will open later this spring. For more information on Liberty’s Fulbright program, contact Edna Udobong at eudobong3@liberty.edu or visit Liberty’s Fulbright page.

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